Two flown to hospital after car swept into swollen Yorkshire Dales river

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A MAJOR search and rescue operation was launched in North Yorkshire last night and two people were airlifted to hospital after their car was swept into a swollen river.

An RAF helicopter rescued the pair at Thornton Rust, between Bainbridge and Aysgarth in Wensleydale, and they were taken to Friarage Hospital in Northallerton suffering mild hypothermia.

A third person is understood to have escaped the vehicle.

It was one of a spate of incidents as ferocious winds and torrential downpours battered parts of the region.

There was widespread flooding in the Reeth and Leyburn areas and one man was rescued from his vehicle which had become stranded in near Gunnerside.

North Yorkshire Police said the bridge over the River Swale on the B6270 near Reeth collapsed, while the A6108 between Leyburn and Reeth and the A684 between Leyburn and Hawes were closed.

Richmondshire District Council delivered sandbags to a number of properties in the area, and police warned motorists that temperatures were expected to drop overnight and there was a risk of black ice this morning.

A search was also being carried out near the swing bridge at Reeth after a torchlight was seen close to the river.

Emergency services were conducting a search to ensure no one was in danger, police said.

There were no reports of anyone missing.

The storms hit various parts of the UK, causing widespread disruption to schools and transport and in Scotland a top wind speed of 151mph was recorded on the summit of the Cairngorms in Aberdeenshire.

Conditions are expected to ease by this morning.